I was in Court this week, in the dock – the same day that the report on the Hillsborough disaster was made public. The traffic officer was determined to have me well and truly ‘done’, and I was. I realised it was pragmatic to plead guilty, as my solicitor explained that I couldn’t prove that the officer’s statement bore little resemblance to what happened on the road that day and I would be punished further for disagreeing with his version regardless of the truth because the Law is heavily weighted in favour of its own, and that there is no point in fighting a battle you can’t win. It gave me the tiniest glimpse, a fleeting shadow, the merest hint, of what the relatives of the dead at Hillsborough have had to move through for 23 years.
Institutional power seeking to defend itself and coldly crushing any opposition. Police ready to lie, bully, doctor statements, threaten its own honest officers – yes, there are some out there somewhere – and shifting the blame to the defenceless and the dead. Senior police officers. Beat policemen. Civic leaders. Lawyers. Politicians. And even a judge it seems. Corrupt. (And now ‘wholeheartedly’ apologising on television, hoping to curry our favour and forgiveness.)
I am in awe of the Hillsborough people as they have taken on this corruption. I wish I had their courage and strength, but I don’t. They have shown that sometimes truth can be made to prevail in dark places, but it has to be fought for tooth and nail, against seemingly overwhelming odds. They have shown awesome courage, awesome determination, awesome dignity, and have each paid a massive personal price to fight that overwhelming destructive power so that truth can prevail.
They have shown me an example I want to follow, and I’m right behind their concern that those who have so blatantly attempted (and succeeded for 23 years) to pervert the course of justice are now brought to trial and thoroughly punished. I so badly hope they are. I’m under no delusion that my sense of personal injustice is more than dust on the scales compared to that of those across the world who are in prison for life, shot, wounded, deprived, robbed, persecuted and abused because of corruption in high and not so high places.
The thought that our institutions are regarded as ‘the best in the world’ sends a shudder down my spine as I find how low they have sunk, and leaves me with a couple of disturbing questions: 1) “What can I do about it?” and 2) … “Am I prepared to pay the price?”
The first answer is that I’m not sure I want to know.
The second answer… well, I’m working on it, but right now, to say yes would be ‘anything but the truth.’